Strength Training for Cancer Patients & Survivors

High-Intensity Strength Training for Cancer Patients & Survivors: Improving Quality of Life

High-Intensity Strength Training for Cancer Patients & Survivors: Improving Quality of Life

Featured image of Don, a cancer survivor who doubled his strength with The Perfect Workout post radiation treatment

Cancer is unfortunately too common. Around two million new cases are diagnosed in the United States every year. Around 5-6% of the people in the US have cancer. Cancer survival rates vary greatly, ranging from about 7-95%.

Reaching “survivor” status usually requires one or more types of treatments, which are typically physically and emotionally draining.

Considering that there are over 100 types of cancer which affect different areas of the body, there isn’t one cause or one universal answer for preventing cancer. However, there are many lifestyle factors which are preventative for some cancers.

Is strength training one of them? For those with cancer who are enduring treatment, can strength training help these individuals? Keep reading!

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Strength Training for Cancer Prevention
Strength Training for Cancer Patients

Image of a trainer teaching a man to us the abduction machine

Strength Training for Cancer Prevention

Does regular strength training reduce the risk of developing cancer? The answer is complex. The risk of developing some cancers is unaffected by healthy lifestyle habits. For the other types, there aren’t many long-term studies assessing the risk of cancer development in those who strength train. The limited research suggests that strength training helps prevent some cancers:

  • Bladder and kidney cancer. A study of over 33,000 men showed that weekly strength training led to a reduced risk of developing bladder and kidney cancer (Rezende et al., 2020).
  • Colon cancer. Participating in strength training, even if it’s not consistent, was linked with a lesser likelihood of developing colon cancer (Boyle et al., 2012).
  • Overall cancer risk for older adults. This study showed that weaker older adults are more likely to develop cancer (de Asteasu et al., 2022). In this study, older adults in this study were much more likely to develop cancer risk when having less grip strength.

Read About How The Perfect Workout Helped Susan Recover From Cancer

Image of a female being trained

Strength Training for Cancer Patients

Thankfully, strength training offers additional help for those who are battling cancer. In the long term, strength training increases the chances of cancer survival.

A study from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings showed that regular strength training was linked with a 33% reduced risk of death over seven years for cancer survivors of various ages (Christensen, Spry, & Galvao, 2014). Strength training helps rebuild people after treatment. Among the benefits, post-treatment training helps rebuild muscle mass and strength, improve self-esteem, boost overall mood, increase energy levels, and develop a better quality of life (Cheema et al., 2007).

For those who are currently in cancer treatment, there are a few benefits. Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, lead to a number of severe side effects: undesired weight loss, lost functional ability, nausea, fatigue, strength loss, and muscle atrophy. Strength training 2-3 times per week assists people through treatment in the following ways (Strasser et al., 2013):

  • Less overall fatigue.
  • Less muscle lost/regained muscle.
  • Added upper and lower body strength.

Read About How 81 Year Old Cancer Survivor Is Staying Strong At The Perfect Workout

For those who are currently participating in treatment for cancer, seek your physician’s approval before participating. There isn’t one universal approach to strength training during cancer treatment.

Aim to keep the workouts short, gradually building intensity and adding exercises as your body successfully tolerates the previous amount. Training all major muscle groups is important, with the lower body being especially important for helping people perform their basic daily living functions (walking, standing from a chair, climbing stairs, etc.). When choosing training days, avoid days where the impacts of treatment are most severe.

Quote from cancer survive Don Marra

Takeaways

Cancer is an umbrella term for over 100 diseases. As a whole, it’s one of the most common chronic diseases in both the US and the world.

The habit of strength training and having more strength are both shown to reduce the risk of developing some cancers. For those who develop cancer, strength training helps reduce the side effects of cancer treatments and improves quality of life. Once reaching survivor status, strength training increases longevity and quality of life.

For those who want to strength train during cancer treatment, start with very few exercises and a low intensity. Leg exercises (leg press, leg curl, squats, etc.) are especially critical for their role in supporting daily activities. Train on days when treatment side effects are less severe.

If you are new to The Perfect Workout, try a FREE workout with us.

We know strength training is important, but nutrition is also a huge piece of your wellbeing. If you'd like help learning how to implement these new habits alongside your glute workouts, schedule a Nutrition Intro session today! Email [email protected] to get started.

  • Boyle, T., Bull, F., Fritschi, L., & Heyworth, J. (2012). Resistance training and the risk of colon and rectal cancers. Cancer Causes & Control, 23(7), 1091-1097.
  • Cheema, B., Gaul, C.A., Lane, K., & Fiatarone Singh, M.A. (2007). Progressive resistance training in breast cancer: a systematic review of clinical trials. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 109, 9-26.
  • Christensen, J. F., Spry, N. A., & Galvão, D. A. (2014, January). Resistance Training and Cancer Survival. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 89, No. 10, p. 1465). Elsevier.
  • de Asteasu, M. L. S., Steffens, T., Ramirez-Velez, R., Cadore, E. L., Izquierdo, M., & Pietta-Dias, C. (2022). Low handgrip strength is associated with higher cancer prevalence in frail nonagenarians and centenarians. Experimental Gerontology, 111862.
  • Rezende, L. F., Lee, D. H., Keum, N., Wu, K., Eluf-Neto, J., Tabung, F. K., & Giovannucci, E. L. (2020). Resistance training and total and site-specific cancer risk: a prospective cohort study of 33,787 US men. British Journal of Cancer, 123(4), 666-672.
  • Strasser, B., Steindorf, K., Wiskemann, J., & Ulrich, C.M. (2013). Impact of resistance training in cancer survivors. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(11), 2080-2090.

Strength Training for Controlling Biomarkers

Strength Training for Controlling Biomarkers

Mission Monday Episode 16

Strength Training for Controlling Biomarkers

Mission Monday Episode 16

The human body is an incredibly complex and evolved organism.

One of the wonderful features of the human body is it often provides signs when something is wrong.

These signs typically appear early in the process, communicating with us before something more severe happens.

These signs include changes in how we look, feel, or how things appear during medical examinations.

Some of these measurable signs are referred to as biomarkers.

Biomarkers

Biomarkers are measures of whether or not something is abnormal.

Common biomarkers are measures of inflammation and oxidative stress. On a long-term basis, elevated amounts of inflammation and oxidative stress both increase the risk of common health issues.

These issues include:

Ideally, we want to keep these biomarkers at lower, healthier amounts.

Strength Training & Biomarkers

A few studies show that strength training can help us achieve this. Specifically, the research shows that training — 2-3 times per week for as little as 8 weeks — can improve key biomarkers

Among the benefits are reductions in insulin, cholesterol, triglycerides, oxidative stress, and C-reactive protein.

Strength training also increased high-density lipoproteins, which are commonly referred to as the “good cholesterol.”

These changes indicate a greatly reduced risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

In summary, elevated biomarkers let us know that we’re at risk for developing many of the most common diseases.

Thankfully, strength training can help by reducing inflammation, insulin, oxidative stress, and other potentially concerning markers.

Strength training can provide these benefits in as little as 2 months.

If you would like to learn more about our method of strength training, read about our methodology. If you are new to The Perfect Workout, try a workout with us and book a FREE Introductory Session.

  • Gacitua, T., Karachon, L., Romero, E., Parra, P., Poblete, C., Russell, J., & Rodrigo, R. (2018). Effects of resistance training on oxidative stress-related biomarkers in metabolic diseases: a review. Sport Sciences for Health, 14(1), 1-7.
  • Kolahdouzi, S., Baghadam, M., Kani-Golzar, F. A., Saeidi, A., Jabbour, G., Ayadi, A., … & Zouhal, H. (2019). Progressive circuit resistance training improves inflammatory biomarkers and insulin resistance in obese men. Physiology & Behavior, 205, 15-21.
  • Olson, T. P., Dengel, D. R., Leon, A. S., & Schmitz, K. H. (2007). Changes in inflammatory biomarkers following one-year of moderate resistance training in overweight women. International Journal of Obesity, 31(6), 996-1003.
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Strength Training & Cancer

Strength Training & Cancer

Mission Monday Episode 15

Strength Training & Cancer

Mission Monday Episode 15

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.

It’s estimated that 1.9 million people have developed cancer this year. It’s also killed over 600,000 people in 2021 alone.

Unfortunately, many of us have been affected personally by cancer.

Today, we’ll talk about the potential help strength training can offer you and your loved ones in terms of cancer prevention and treatment.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is an umbrella term for hundreds of diseases.

The common trait of these diseases is that they feature the rapid development and spread of abnormal cells.

Since there are so many different types, the causes and treatments vary. Thankfully, there are actions we can take to prevent the most common cancers.

Strength training is one of those options.

Strength Training & Cancer

Strength training reduces the risk of getting cancer as a whole. Specifically, studies show strength training is protective against developing kidney, bladder, breast, colon, and rectal cancer.

For those who are receiving treatment for cancer, strength training offers a great deal of help.
23 studies examined over 900 cancer patients who were receiving radiation, chemotherapy, or other treatments.

Strength training during treatment led to:

  • enhanced strength
  • more muscle
  • reduced treatment-related fatigue.

These benefits are huge when considering that most treatments lead to muscle loss, strength loss, and debilitating fatigue.

Strength training is also critical after completing cancer treatments.

Ten studies showed that strength training improves strength, flexibility, mental health, energy, and quality of life after cancer treatments.

Most importantly, strength training increases the chance of sustaining life after cancer.

A study from the Mayo Clinic showed that strength training extends lifespan in one out of every three cancer survivors.

This is not surprising when considering that cancer treatments often leave people feeling depleted. And strength training’s main function is to enhance our physical abilities.

In summary, strength training can help you or your loved ones avoid cancer, better manage cancer treatments, and extend your life after cancer.

If you would like to learn more about our method of strength training, read about our methodology. If you are new to The Perfect Workout, try a workout with us and book a FREE Introductory Session.

  • Boyle, T., Bull, F., Fritschi, L., & Heyworth, J. (2012). Resistance training and the risk of colon and rectal cancers. Cancer Causes & Control, 23(7), 1091-1097.
  • Cheema, B., Gaul, C.A., Lane, K., & Fiatarone Singh, M.A. (2007). Progressive resistance training in breast cancer: a systematic review of clinical trials. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 109, 9-26.
  • Christensen, J. F., Spry, N. A., & Galvão, D. A. (2014, January). Resistance training and cancer survival. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 89(10), 1465.
  • Rezende, L. F., Lee, D. H., Keum, N., Wu, K., Eluf-Neto, J., Tabung, F. K., & Giovannucci, E. L. (2020). Resistance training and total and site-specific cancer risk: a prospective cohort study of 33,787 US men. British Journal of Cancer, 123(4), 666-672.
  • Strasser, B., Steindorf, K., Wiskemann, J., & Ulrich, C.M. (2013). Impact of resistance training in cancer survivors. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(11), 2080-2090.
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The Workout That Solved Every Problem

The Workout That Solved Every Problem She Wanted Solved

The Workout That Solved Every Problem She Wanted Solved

Susan Hauser - She wanted to maintain bone density

Susan Hauser, 73 years old, was mourning the loss of her husband and recovering from cancer.

During an extremely difficult time in her life, a phone call brought a glimmer of hope.

Here is her story…

“My husband passed away five years ago. That was a very difficult time because I was coming out of cancer as well.

While I was visiting friends in Phoenix, my daughter called and said, ‘I'm signing you up for this.’

I said, ‘For what?’

‘For The Perfect Workout. You need to do this.’ she said. ‘Give me a year and we'll go from there.’

I agreed.

That was five years ago.

One of my major goals was to maintain bone density so that I didn't end up with osteoporosis, which is what my mother had. Her condition was severe, too. Her spine started collapsing. I did not want that to happen to me.

I also wanted to maintain strength and my activity levels. I needed to maintain as much wellness as I could.

And I'm not a gym rat, I have never enjoyed two hours in the gym doing four sets of 25, or whatever it is! I just don't do that.

But I quickly learned that The Perfect Workout solves every problem that I wanted to be solved.

My bone density has gone up, as opposed to down, and I have maintained that throughout the five years. I feel better. I can go and do whatever I want to do.

I love the fact that this workout is 20 minutes. I love the endorphins that kick in after the workout. I love feeling that good feeling later when I'm tired.

And it's made a major difference in my health.

Female Client maintaining her bone density

I had a second round of cancer in the last year and a half, and Raechel kept me going that entire time. We never stopped doing The Perfect Workout. She worked with me no matter what was going on. And it's been unbelievable how much strength I maintained during that entire saga.

Raechel and I had an immediate connection. We have developed a real friendship and connection that’s become very special to me.

She's very good at what she does. She knows the body and knows what I need. She can tell within about 45 seconds of walking in the door what's going on with me that day – whether I have strength or not – and she works through that.

After having surgery, throughout the pandemic, and even being on chemo, Raechel worked around me and my needs. That’s pretty special.

I see The Perfect Workout as a part of my long-term future, and I don't see myself stopping.

Member Testimonial Quote about maintaining bone density

If anyone were skeptical about starting The Perfect Workout, as opposed to doing a two-hour gym workout. I would say you really need to try it.

If you're willing to spend two hours in a gym, why would you not spend 20 minutes at the studio and have the rest of your day to do whatever you want? You will feel better as opposed to depleting yourself. You’ll feel better than you did before you went in.

I think The Perfect Workout truly is revolutionary. This workout does everything that needs to be done as you get older. And that's what's key for me.”

Susan Hauser, 73
Plano, TX

If you are new to The Perfect Workout, try a workout with us and start with a FREE Introductory Session.

Cancer Survivor is Staying Strong, at age 81

81 year old cancer survivor is staying strong at the perfect workout

The day she took another fall was the day she decided to do something about it.

She needed to get stronger.

She knew she had to build muscle and improve her balance.

She made a plan to work with a Trainer to get there.

What she didn’t plan on was facing an unexpected battle with Cancer.

But that didn’t stop Kathe Petersdorf! She beat cancer, overcame multiple surgeries and returned to her workouts with a goal to get stronger than ever.

Kathe initially began her journey with The Perfect Workout to combat the falls she had previously taken. Knowing she’d get stronger and more stable, she worked consistently with The Perfect Workout Trainers to build up strength. What she was surprised to receive was coaching, connection and a friend in some of her most challenging times….

In this feature, we sit down with Kathe to hear her story of overcoming health scares and gaining more than just strength and balance at The Perfect Workout.

Watch the full interview with Kathe to hear her story!

When I asked Kathe what initially brought her into The Perfect Workout she answered bluntly.

“My age.”

She had taken a couple falls which quickly became motivation for her to do something to improve her strength. Kathe felt like it was time she started building muscle so that she didn’t keep falling, or experience something worse.

The Perfect Workout was something Kathe had heard of before but never took it too seriously until her decision to get stronger.

The first session was free and she thought, “Well let’s go take advantage of that and we’ll see what that’s all about.” The Danville studio was close to her, the workout only took 20 minutes and strength was guaranteed. Why wouldn’t she try it?

The first time she stepped foot into the training studio for her Introductory Session, Kathe was surprised at how different it was compared to the gyms she had been to before.

The workout space was small, intimate, clinically controlled and distraction free. Not your average gym with loud music, clanking weights and people checking themselves out in the mirror.

Then she met Nicole and Jennifer and they “sold” her on it, she said. “They were wonderful, and they still are wonderful.”

Kathe worked with a couple of different trainers, but the relationship she began to cultivate with Nicole Rhoades became such a special component of her 1-on-1 training.

Amidst the year and a half of training Kathe has been doing with us, she was faced with an unexpected battle with Cancer.

For almost three months, Kathe was hospitalized and had to have surgery where they removed her tumor, one of her kidneys, and her spleen. During that time she spent in the hospital, who stayed in touch with her? Nicole, her trainer.

“She was very personal with her contacts and I feel like she’s my good friend now. And she stayed in touch with me the whole time I was gone, which I appreciated.”

As Kathe and Nicole grew closer, despite the hiatus from working out, the plan was to always get back into the studio and continue getting stronger. “I knew I didn’t want to lose all the progress I had made so I said I’m coming back no matter what! And I did.”

"I knew I didn't want to lose all the progress I had made so I said I'm coming back no matter what! AND I DID!"

Once she was cleared to workout again, Kathe came back to the Danville studio and continued her twice a week slow-motion training sessions as part of her recovery plan. And then COVID-19 hit the Bay Area, hard.

Being the first in the country to officially implement the shelter-at home orders, the Danville studio temporarily closed down.

What would happen to all the progress she’d been gaining back? Would her health have to be put on hold again? Not this time.

Nicole and the Bay Area team didn’t waste any time keeping their clients on track- and Virtual Personal Training was born.

I asked Kathe what her initial thoughts were when we had to close the studio doors and said, “Hey, we’re going to train you virtually!”

She had questions– like we all did— Is Virtual Training going to do for me what the Studio workouts did, without the machines?

“I trusted Nicole, and I know she’d had experience in doing this. A lot of experience.” But there were still a lot of unanswered questions.

After actually trying a Virtual Personal Training Session, she was put at ease. “I have my weights and we workout. I feel like I’m okay. I feel like everything’s going to be OKAY. I still feel like I’m working out, and Nicole makes it worthwhile. I can hardly wait to get back into the studio, however!”

"I feel like everything's going to be OKAY. I still feel like I'm working out, and Nichole make it worthwhile."

I agreed with her that we all miss the machines, miss the studio and miss seeing each other each week. But, this is what we have to do now, to make sure we don’t lose progress and to make sure that we stay healthy and we stay strong.

Each of our Trainers are Certified and go through an extensive and immersive training process. Most personal training certifications do not require any hands-on training to get certified. At The Perfect Workout, our certification goes beyond books and heavily involves hands-on training with real people.

We test our trainers’ knowledge and expertise with numerous written and practical exams. All Personal Trainers are AED/CPR certified and are required to complete continuing education as part of their employment with The Perfect Workout.

Kathe had expressed to Nicole she was worried she wouldn’t be getting enough of a workout during her Virtual Sessions, Nicole talked about the workout and the exercises were explained in detail.

“The thing that I like about that is she explains which muscles I’m supposed to be using and feeling and that’s been very helpful.”

Now she thinks, “I am getting enough of a workout,” by doing this.

I asked her what makes her feel like she’s getting enough of a workout.

“I’m tired!” We laughed at this because that generally speaks for itself. If you’ve ever experienced slow-motion strength training you know how challenging it is!

Kathe explained that the workout tires out her muscles (muscle success) like the machines did and it just makes sense to her the approach they’ve been taking. Despite having very little equipment- a 3, 5, and an 8 lb dumbbell seem to do the trick!

I reiterated that was what the workout is all about– hitting that moment of temporary muscle failure and how cool it is that they can achieve that together over a Virtual connection.

One of the most surprising parts about our Virtual Training sessions is the ability to fatigue the muscles with bodyweight or lighter weights, like Kathe’s 5 lb dumbbells. After lifting heavy weights on Nautilus machines, it's very surprising how heavy we can make a little dumbbell feel.

Kathe opened up to me about another concern she had with Virtual Training before beginning. “Am I going to pay all that money and just workout at home?” But now that she’s been training Virtually for over a month now and she’s experienced our method in a different way, she feels like “Yeah, that is okay!”

I know one of the biggest questions that comes up for a lot of clients before trying virtual training is, “How is the trainer gonna be able to correct me and coach my form if they’re not right here in the room with me?” I asked Kathe what that experience had been like for her–

“Oh, she corrects me! She’s good at that. I carry my iPad around with me, wherever, whatever I’m doing on the floor or standing up. And if she can’t see me, she let’s me know and I move it ‘til she can. It’s been good. Trouble is, I wanna chit-chat ‘cus there’s nobody here to talk to… “

We agreed that working with a Trainer virtually, as opposed to working out alone or following along with a video had some added bonuses. It’s like seeing an old friend again. You get to maintain that connection, even if it is through an iPad.

“Do you think you could do this workout on your own without the coaching from your trainer?” I asked Kathe.

“No, and I don’t want to. Primarily because she corrects me if I’m not doing it right. She pays a lot of attention to me.”

"Do you think you could do this workout on your own without the coaching from your trainer?"

"No, and I don't want to. Primarily because she corrects me if I'm not doing it right. She pays a lot of attention to me."

I realized that the relationship Kathe had with her Trainer was a really important piece of the puzzle for her.. In more ways than one.

  • She was able to maintain that connection they established in the studio
  • She got personalization in her workouts and support on the days in between
  • She trusted that her Trainer would coach her and push her, more than she could herself.

We chatted a little bit more about her plans to continue Virtual Training until the studios back up. After all, we’re all at the mercy of this change, but not working out is not an option.

“Kathe is so remarkable! She works hard and laughs through it! She is a true joy and works to reach her goals!” – Nicole Rhoades (Kathe's trainer)

Before we signed off, Kathe surprised me with a goal she had in mind. “I want to be your poster child because I’m 81.” — which honestly shocked me because she looks SO GOOD and youthful. I would have never guessed she was 81.

She continued, “Then when I’ve accomplished the poster child, I’m going to take classes and I’m going to start teaching and working in the studio.”

How’s THAT for a goal?!

Not currently training? What goals are you missing out on by putting your workouts on pause?

Motivated to Power Through Cancer!

the perfect workout motivated jack to power through cancer!

male client smiling and posing for the camera

Jack White has been on many journeys in his life, some positive, some challenging, but they’ve all taught him a lot about himself and his potential. At 75 years old, Jack has been active for many years, often going on walks and practicing the shot put for senior athletic competitions. It’s that competitive side that got Jack interested in getting on a regular workout program to increase his strength. His wife had started at The Perfect Workout’s Mission Valley studio in January 2016, and was constantly telling Jack how great she felt doing the slow-motion strength training. But Jack wasn’t sold. “I figured it was just another gym.

My wife’s fitness needs are different—I thought there was no way it would work for both of us. I wanted to be a competitive senior athlete!” Still, Jack agreed to go in for an intro session. That’s when he realized this was what he needed all along. “I was surprised it wasn’t a big smelly gym! I liked the small, personal atmosphere, and the trainers knew how to work with my individual fitness goals and help sculpt my body.” Jack quickly saw results. His muscles evolved and toned up, and the twice-a-week workouts worked in tandem with his shot put training—so much so, that he ended up winning the shot put competition for his age group at the National Masters Championship in 2017.

The most challenging journey of Jack’s life came when he was recently diagnosed with APL, an often deadly form of leukemia. Instead of letting it get in the way of his fitness and his happiness, Jack faced it head-on. He kept training at The Perfect Workout, pushing through the discomfort in order to keep his strength up through the chemo treatments. While he has worked with many great trainers in the two years he’s been with the studio, he especially credits Pat Kelly with helping him push through the hardest period—January through June of this year, when he was in remission. At the end of June, Jack was declared cancer-free. “My doctor told me that the fact that I was fit when the cancer struck aided greatly in my ability to recover from the cancer.”

The Perfect Workout has been invaluable to Jack both in sickness and in health, and he sees the 20 minutes, twice a week regimen as a lifelong pursuit. He can now lift 450 pounds on the leg press, and wants to get to 500 by the end of the year. Another goal for the near future? “I want to qualify for the Senior Olympics in Albuquerque next year.” With The Perfect Workout by his side and his love of the shot put, there’s no doubt he’ll make it happen.